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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Latin American Film Festival educates and entertains

The “lovebirds” steal cars and statues of the Virgin Mary to make ends meet. They are also on the run with two cops on their tail and 50 kilos of cocaine in their possession. Throw in some hysterical dialogue and you have the film “Who Killed the White Llama?”

This comedic film, directed by Rodrigo Bellott, kicked off the North Carolina Latin American Film Festival that began Nov. 11 in Bryan Auditorium. Guilford is participating in the festival along with other campuses in the area.

The Bolivian film by Bellott is a social commentary on the corruption rooted in Bolivian culture.

“We wanted to portray recent social, political, and economical events in the country (of Bolivia),” said Bellott to the New York Daily News in April 2008. “We fictionalized them through a couple of anti-heroes: an indigenous couple who, because of a series of social, racial, and economic issues, become delinquents in pre-Evo Morales Bolivia.”

Students’ motivations for attending the film screening ranged from a need for class credit to a desire for simple enjoyment.

Early College at Guilford senior Kate Hayworth said this was her first time seeing a Spanish film.

“I thought it was interesting the way that social issues and governmental problems in Bolivia were a prominent part of the film,” said Hayworth. “The narrator did more than tell the story in the film; he educated the audience about current events in the country. I definitely know more about Bolivia now than I did before.”

First-year Chris Conner also attended the film. He, too, felt that the film was educational.

“The chase took you across the magnificent landscapes of the country,” said Conner. “To be able to see this while following the comic story better aids in the ability to learn about such a broad topic.”

Alfonso Abad Mancheno, assistant professor of Spanish and a part of the film festival for the past four years, welcomed participants to the screening.

Spanish speakers also participated in the learning process by hearing different dialects, accents, and slang from different regions.

“At first, I had trouble understanding the film,” said Mancheno. “It took me a second to start to understand the accents (of the actors) and the slang of Bolivia.”

Mancheno is from Spain and he enjoys teaching others about the diversity of Spanish speaking countries. He uses the festival to share art forms from each country featured in the film screenings.

“I try to bring different music every year (from the region of the film),” said Mancheno. “We had a tango duo dance one year and bossa nova music another night.”

Alvis Dunn, assistant professor of history, will introduce the Latin American film “Generation Exile,” directed by Rodrigo Dorfman, on Nov. 19.

This documentary film involves the search for identity and the personal struggles of four different people: a Taiwanese pianist, an Afro-Caribbean whirling dervish, a Latina artist, and a young American woman.

“These films have a great historical context that is essential to the plot,” said Dunn. “This gives them a social conscience. They are rooted in reality and dedicated to social change.”

Dunn remembers the film festival beginning in 1986 with Sharon Mujica, the outreach director and Yucatec Maya program director for the UNC-Duke Consortium. Her mission began with three films. Now, the festival has expanded to include 16 campuses with 35 film screenings.

The film festival is produced by The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Miguel Rojas-Sotelo is the artistic director and programmer.

“We have a mandate, a social responsibility, not only to teach and educate university students, but to bring knowledge of the region and touch a segment of the population that may not know about Latin America,” said Rojas-Sotelo on Oct. 29 to the Duke Today newsletter.

These viewing opportunities help participants travel through countries without leaving their seats, hear diverse dialects of Spanish, and learn a rich history they might otherwise miss.

On Nov. 15, the Mexican film “El General,” by Natalia Almada was screened along with a live Mexican music performance. Almada’s film tells the story of her family and country by using live recordings about her great-grandfather, Plutarco Elias Calles, a revolutionary general who became president of Mexico in 1924.

The film “Generation Exile” will start at 7 p.m. in the Bryan Auditorium on Nov. 19 and Dorfman, the director, will speak about his film in person.

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